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    The Daily Yomiuri has a dual interview with former Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone and US Ambassador to Japan (and White House Chief of Staff toward the end of the Reagan administration) Howard Baker. The English version focuses mostly on their impressions of Reagan and, against that backdrop, what leadership is. But in the Japanese (I’m assuming Baker spoke in English and Nakasone in Japanese, but I’m not sure whether to call it the “original”), there’s more about Japan’s role in the WOT and on current issues along the Pacific Rim:


    The Japan-US relationship is one of amity. Japan sent SDF personnel to Iraq, but that was on its own behalf. It was not just predicated on the Japan-US friendship. Of course, America applauded the deployment, but the SDF was sent in the national interests of Japan. [Yes, it’s that repetitious in the Japanese version.–SRK]



    We are well aware that Japan has a pacifist constitution. We acknowledge fully that there are restrictions on the SDF. Howvever, the world perceives Japan as a superpower. Japan has begun to take on the responsibilities of a major nation. The deployment of peacekeeping forces (PKO) to the Golan Heights and East Timor is such a role of a superpower. And I think that the deployment of the SDF to Iraq was also in that vein.



    For Japan, the chief threat now is not North Korea. The very biggest issue is Japan’s China policy. China wields gargantuan economic and military power, and it is looking to expand it. For the sake of the world, and not just the Pacific Rim, it is extremely important for Japan and China to build an amicable relationship.





    All of which makes me wonder–what exactly is in the RNC platform about China and Japan? Baker is an ambassador now, after all; you expect smooth talk from him. I still can’t seem to get to the text. Maybe I’m just using harebrained search terms. It’s clearly toned down from 2000, but I wonder whether it sounds like what I surmise from my slapdash back-translation from the Nikkei.



    Added at 3 a.m. (don’t ask): Nathan says that things in China are not as 1984-ish as they’re often made out to be. He seems to be talking mostly about daily life for the people. I’d have no trouble believing that. Japan is a way more accessible country than China, and Western journalists still insist on doing that whole Mysterious Ways of Japan routine whenever they can. At the same time, the fact that police brutality may be less common than the press makes out doesn’t mean that the PRC’s foreign policy and designs on superpower-dom are any less troubling. Even if we agree that the Kuomintang was not populated by angels.

    2 Responses to “The Ron-Yasu relationship, then and now”

    1. Nathan says:

      Well, I certainly would love to see the PRC’s current government overthrown, sure. But for now, not if it means friends and family lose their lives.
      And taking into account such biases as are present between our two favorite nations, I’m far more concerned Japan’s economic policy than PRC’s foreign policy…[grin]

    2. Sean Kinsell says:

      I can see the first part, and take the second part with good humor. But seriously, I think what’s most worrisome is the potential for instability. Japan’s economy (including import-export and investment practices) has plenty of problems, but it’s a known quantity and is unlikely to emerge as an imminent threat while we’re occupied with something else.